News You Can Use: Fighting terrorism

Air Force News

June 16, 1995

WASHINGTON (AFNS Features) — If you or a member of your family works for the U.S. government, terrorists might take aim at you, say Army intelligence officials in a recent security awareness report.

Officials said the reason why military people are targets for terrorism is because they “visibly represent your government.”

“Fortunately, you can do much to reduce your risk.”

Whether the terrorists style themselves as separatists, anarchists, dissidents, nationalists, Marxist revolutionaries, or religious true believers, officials say what marks them as terrorists is that they direct their violence against noncombatants, with the goal of terrorizing a wider audience than their immediate victims, thereby attempting to gain political influence over the larger audience.”

Other than the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City, or the recent Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, officials said there have been relatively few terrorist incidents within the United States.

“Our good fortune in this respect owes partly to the difficulties that hinder hostile nations and factions seeking to mount operations of terror in this country,” officials said.

The effectiveness of U.S. counterintelligence and law enforcement has been an integral part of this picture. So has the U.S. government policy of applying diplomatic, economic, political, and even military pressure on states that sponsor terrorism.

Not that Americans are immune from terrorist attacks. Individually and collectively, inside and outside our national boundaries, all Americans are vulnerable, officials say.

As the secretary of defense said in 1988, “The United States represents a prime target for terrorist groups because of our commitment to political reform and constructive change.”

To terrorists, say officials’, reform represents continuation of the system they abhor and co-opts the revolution they hope to lead.”

Terrorists often resort to such random violence as the bombing of buildings and airliners; it’s part and parcel of their methodology. If they can, however, they will target those persons who most visibly represent the government they seek to undermine.

U.S. government representatives abroad have become prime terrorist targets. In 1988, for example, Navy Capt. “Bill” Nordeen, the U.S. defense attache in Athens, was murdered by assassins from the 17 November organization.

In general, the higher your rank and authority in federal service, the greater your risk. But even if you are a lower-ranking military person, a clerk-typist in federal service, or a family member of either, the risk is greater than that of the general public. Why? Because military people represent the government.

Victims of terrorism also have included American businessmen, tourists, students, and missionaries, officials said.

Fortunately, although military people cannot eliminate all risk, they can greatly reduce it by following personal security measures that make good sense no matter where they live — especially in areas of high threat for terrorist attack.

Some tips to fight terrorism include:

— Encourage security awareness in your family and discuss what to do if your security is threatened.

— Be alert for surveillance attempts and suspicious persons or activities; report them to the proper authorities. Remember, most terrorist attacks occur near the victim’s home or office.

— Vary your personal routine; be as unpredictable as possible in your comings and goings.

— Check in with your friends and family; let them know where you are or when to expect you.

— Always carry change for the telephone. Know the emergency numbers for police, fire, ambulance and hospital.

— Know where to find civilian police, military police, government agencies and other safe locations.

— Avoid public disputes or confrontations. Report any trouble to the proper authorities.

— Set up simple danger signals to alert family members or associates.

— Carry identification showing your blood type and any special medical conditions. Keep one week’s supply of essential medication on hand.

— Keep a low profile. Shun publicity. Don’t flash your cash.

— Avoid revealing your home address, phone number or any information about your family — unless you have good reason.

— Keep your personal affairs regular, keep wills current, have powers of attorney drawn up, and ensure family financial security.

When you travel:

— Avoid travel to areas of high threat unless it’s mission essential.

— Before traveling through high-threat areas and high-risk airports, review the DOD code of conduct guidance for personnel subject to terrorist activity.

— At your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, ask the regional security officer about current security concerns where you intend to travel. Get briefed on precautionary measures.

— Use military aircraft or a military charter when you travel in high-threat areas.

— Avoid wearing military uniforms or identification on commercial aircraft in high-threat areas or high-risk airports.

— Wear nondescript civilian clothing on commercial flights. Avoid wearing clothes that are clearly of U.S. origin, such as cowboy hats.

— Wear civilian clothing, even on military aircraft, if you’re making connections with a commercial flight that will go through a high-risk area.

— Send classified material through approved channels. Carry it only if your mission requires you to.

— Avoid writing your military rank on travel documents.

— Avoid marking baggage with your military rank, insignia or duty station.

— Avoid public areas of the airport. Proceed quickly through security checkpoints to await your next flight in a secure area.

— Avoid discussing your military affiliation with anyone.

— Be aware that hijackers may not all reveal themselves at the same time; a lone hijacker may draw out security personnel to be neutralized by other hijackers.

— Blend with other passengers; don’t stand out.

— Remember that a tourist passport is only a shallow cover for your DOD affiliation.

— Show your tourist passport for identification.

If you’re attacked or captured:

— Surrender; don’t fight back.

— Make safety — yours and your family’s — your first concern.

— Stay calm and alert.

— Obey your attackers or captors; avoid provoking them; never threaten them with reprisals by your family, friends or unit.

— Make mental notes of the gender, age, height build, race or nationally, speech, accent, mannerisms, complexion, hair style, clothing, scars, and tattoos of your attackers or captors. Note also the license, state, style, color, make and year of their vehicles, and any damage or marks.

— Make mental notes, if you’re moved by vehicle, of the movement direction distance, speeds, landmarks, distinctive orders and sounds.

— Request at once any special medicine or medical care you need.

— Establish rapport with your captors. You’ll improve your chances of remaining unharmed.

— Keep your courage up, even if you are not rescued at once. Remember, the passing of time usually works in your favor.

— Conceal your access to any classified information.

— Ask permission to contact the local U.S. embassy or other U.S. government representative, your commander, or family.

— Follow a daily routine to lull you captors — and to help you stay focused.

— Keep a diary if you can, both to occupy your mind and to help you later on — after you’re rescued — to recall events.

— Consider concealing any knowledge you have of your captors’ language; you’ll learn more if your captors talk freely around you, and they’ll talk more freely if they think you don’t understand them.

— Try to escape only if you’re sure you’ll succeed.

— Maintain your composure, dignity, and self-respect — no matter how primitive your living conditions.

Officials add that the bottom line for travel this summer is to look and act like a civilian, but avoid clothing that is distinctively American.

They add to stay out of high-threat countries if possible.

Officials said taking these personal security measures is no guarantee of safety from terrorists, but it surely improves your prospects. (Courtesy Army Command Information Package)

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